The Kirtland football team have played 59 playoff games in 15 seasons under coach Tiger LaVerde.
That’s a lot of games and a lot of different opponents.
But when the Hornets take to the pitch this weekend to kick off their 2021 playoff series, they’ll do so against a team they’ve never played before.
Considering the number of playoff games the Hornets have played in the past 15 years, that says a lot.
Kirtland will host Cadiz Harrison Central in an opening game of the Division V, Region 17 tournament on October 30 at Rogers Field.
Official tournament pairings were released on October 24 by the OHSAA.
“It’s going to be nice to see someone we’ve never played before,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “It’s pretty cool – a team we’ve never heard of or seen from in any other part of the state. It’s good for kids to get to know another team and face someone they’ve never faced.
Kirtland enters the game with a 9-0 record, giving the Hornets a 50-game winning streak, the best in the country. The Hornets have not lost a game since falling to Marion Local, 34-11, in the Division IV State Championship game in November 2017.
A win over Harrison Central (4-6) would also give Kirtland their 50th playoff victory in program history. All of these victories came from LaVerde.
Prior to LaVerde’s arrival, Kirtland was 0-1 in the playoffs. Since then, the Hornets have gone 49-9 in playoff games, with three of those losses in state championship games.
“It makes me very proud of our children and what they have accomplished over the years,” said LaVerde. “I am very fortunate to coach big kids.
As Kirtland faces a new foe, Mentor will face a familiar opponent in Week 11 when the 5-5 Cardinals face 6-4 St. Ignatius on October 29 at Byers Field in Parma.
Mentor played against St. Ignatius in week two, with the Cardinals beating the Wildcats, 28-26.
The teams have faced each other several times over the years, both in the regular season and in the playoffs.
“It’s exciting to play a very good football team at St. Ignatius,” said Mentor coach Matt Gray. “They are playing well and we are making a lot of positive progress and getting healthier. It should be a good game and a good atmosphere in Byers on Friday night.
In all, 18 regional News-Herald teams are heading to the playoffs. The OHSAA has expanded the playoffs to 16 teams per region, which represents a larger than normal tournament field in the region and in Ohio.
Divisions I-IV will play on Friday evenings and Divisions V-VII will play on Saturdays.
The only exception is Gilmour, a Division IV qualifier whose Weber field has no lights, so the Lancers will play their opener on October 30 at 1:30 p.m.
Qualifiers for the News-Herald region playoffs are as follows, with regional seeds in parentheses:
• (11) Mentor (5-5) at (6) St. Ignatius (6-4) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division I, Region 1 game.
• (16) Akron Firestone (4-6) vs. (1) Benedictine (6-2) at Euclid Community Stadium at 7 p.m. on October 29 in a Division II, Region 5 game.
• (14) North (4-6) at (3) Akron Hoban (6-3) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division II, Region 5 game.
• (10) Bedford (6-3) to (7) South (7-3) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division II, Region 5 game.
• (9) Brush (5-4) at (8) Riverside (6-4) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division II, Region 5 game.
• (16) Akron East (5-5) vs. (1) Chardon (10-0) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division III, Region 9 game.
• (14) Harvey (5-4) to (3) Kenston (9-1) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division III, Region 9 game.
• (13) NDCL (5-5) at (4) Canfield (9-1) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division III, Region 9 game.
• (9) West Geauga (7-3) at (8) Streetsboro (7-2) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division III, Region 9 game.
• (15) Hawken (5-5) vs. (2) VASJ (6-1) at 7 p.m. on October 29 in a Division IV, Region 13 game.
• (13) Canal Fulton Northwest (6-4) at (4) Perry (8-2) at 7:00 p.m. on October 29 in a Division IV, Region 13 game.
• (12) Girard (6-4) to (5) Gilmour (7-2) at 1:30 p.m. on October 30 in a Division IV, Region 13 match.
• (16) Cadiz Harrison Central (4-6) at (1) Kirtland (9-0) at 7:00 p.m. on October 30 in a Division V, Region 17 game.
• (10) Berkshire (6-4) at (7) Crestwood (6-3) at 7:00 p.m. on October 30 in a Division V, Region 17 game.
• (12) Jeromesville Hillsdale (6-4) vs. (5) Cardinal (6-3) at 7 p.m. on October 30 in a Division VI, Region 21 game.
Tickets for all OHSAA playoff games must be purchased online at www.OHSAA.org/tickets.